Welsh business telecoms provider welcomes iPhoneX – along with better mobile speeds for rural Wales


Brian Stokes, Managing Director of Business Telecoms and IT Provider ITCS, discusses the launch of 1PhoneX and mobile connectivity issues for rural welsh businesses.

As a business mobile provider, we’re pleased to see the release of the new iPhoneX. ITCS will be taking pre-orders from 27th Oct, with availability from 3rd Nov. Early uptake is high, with a number of business customers eager to get their hands on the new model X.

However, In the comfort of large cities like Cardiff and Swansea, while tech lovers are debating the benefits of the new iPhoneX and having discussions over who has the best superfast broadband speeds, it’s easy to forget that in some more rural parts of Wales it’s still hard to get sufficient signal to even send a text message.

I’m encouraged to learn this could be about to change.

Wales to implement a new ‘Mobile Action Plan’

While mobile connectivity is the responsibility of the UK Government, the Welsh Government earlier this month announced a new ‘Mobile Action Plan’ to support the mobile phone industry to improve connectivity in Wales.

There are particular challenges in boosting mobile connectivity in Wales. For example, data from Ofcom on television masts show that because of the country’s topography Wales needs 67 masts to reach one million people, while in England to reach the same amount of people 12 masts are required, in Northern Ireland it is 25 and Scotland 45.

The series of actions follows a Mobile Roundtable held by the Minister for Skills and Science, Julie James, with mobile providers and the regulator earlier this year. The plan has been developed in consultation with those at the meeting and others including farming unions, landowners and business organisations.

It focuses on the key areas where the Welsh Government can use the levers at its disposal and its influence to help improve connectivity and capacity. The areas include:

• Planning – Research has been commissioned, due to be completed in the Autumn, to inform changes to permitted development rights for telecommunications equipment to improve mobile connectivity. Planning Policy Wales (PPW) will be refreshed to highlight the positive relationship between telecommunications and the economy. A revised PPW will be published for consultation by Spring 2018. The Welsh Govenment will also work with mobile network operators to revise and update the code of best practice and Technical Advice Note (TAN19)

• Non-domestic rates – Where evidence suggests that a reduction in non-domestic rates would encourage investment the Welsh Government will consider providing non-domestic rates relief on appropriate mobile mast sites.

• Innovation and emerging technologies – The Welsh Government and mobile network operators will work together to identify opportunities to develop and test innovative technologies in Wales, including 5G. There have already been success stories in Wales in this field, such as the Welsh Government working with EE in the Teifi Valley to extend coverage using small cell technology.

• Major events and special projects – Build on work already done at the Royal Welsh Show where collaborative working has resulted in a permanent mast at the showground. The Welsh Government will facilitate relationships between mobile network operators and major event organisers.

Improving mobile connectivity is vital for Wales Business growth

At ITCS, we partner with all the major telephone networks in order to provide the best solution for our customers, no matter where their location. However, as a business telecoms specialist in Wales, we cannot stress how important improving connectivity is for our more rural customers to improve business growth.

We are proud to have worked already with the Welsh Government on the superfast broadband rollout, which has seen tiny rural villages like Mawdlam in South Wales boasting fantastic data speeds of over 300mbps. We look forward to seeing the Mobile Action Plan implemented with similar success and to helping more rural Welsh businesses access all the benefits that modern mobile telecoms are already delivering to our City-based customers.


WebWelsh business telecoms provider welcomes iPhoneX – along with better mobile speeds for rural Wales

Need support for an Excel spreadsheet error?  Take heart – it could be worse!

Spreadsheets are still used throughout businesses in the UK – but they’ve also been blamed for some of the biggest slip ups.

The problem is that spreadsheets are only as accurate as the information typed into them, and the slightest slip in a formula can cost a company literally millions of pounds.

The trusty old spreadsheet, dating back to the eighties, is still the go-to IT application for keeping vital records in many businesses – but should it be?

Brian Stokes, Managing Director, of ITCS (who were recently named the top IT support company in Wales) smiles at the number of applications he’s seen spreadsheets being used for over the years.

“At ITCS, we’ve seen Excel being relied upon for all manner of critical data, including HR information, company accounts, customer data and even legal document tracking.”

“I appreciate the power in Excel’s calculations, but it offers no audit trail and it’s 100% reliant on the skill of the user to not delete critical data or make a mistake in the formula.  Like most IT support companies, we regularly get support calls along the lines of ‘Help – I deleted my data!” 

“Technology has come on in leaps and bounds and for most tasks there is now a tool specifically designed for the job – and almost all of them do it better.”  

However, if you are one of our customers who’ve rang us for support on Excel – it could be worse.  Here’s some of the world’s most famous, spectacularly simple spreadsheet blunders:


Health charity The King’s Fund were left red faced when their Chief Economist John Appleby reported 11 per cent cuts in Wales in the well-respected British Medical Journal.  The cuts were slated in the media, but a simple spreadsheet error had exaggerated the real figure of -8.3%


London Olympics

The London 2012 Olympics organisers oversold the synchronised swimming sessions by double!

One staff member incorrectly typed a ‘2’ instead of a ‘1’ – and 10,000 unhappy spectators were left without a poolside seat because ‘20,000’ seats were sold instead of ‘10,000’.  You could say it was somewhat unsynchronized….

Pension Fund

Outsourcing specialists Mouchel were hit massively by a spreadsheet error in a pension fund deficit.  The error, blamed on external actuaries, hit the companies profits by £4.3 million (ouch). Share prices dropped and their chairman resigned.


To truly mess up, ask a statistician

Reinhart and Rogoff’s paper, “Growth in a Time of Debt” was one of the world’s most quoted research statistics.

So quoted, in fact, that students at the University of Massachusetts tried to replicate the results.

The students discovered an error whereby Reinhart & Rogoff’s spreadsheet formula was averaging the wrong columns…meaning economists worldwide were publishing flawed statistics… including…


Chancellor George Osborne

In case you are feeling bad for placing an Excel support call, feel better.

The former Chancellor used formulas based on Rogoff and Reinhart’s work to calculate his budget cuts. This meant that a debt-to-GDP ratio of 90% saw growth of -0.1%, instead of 2.2%!

We don’t yet offer IT support to the UK Government, but if he’d given us a call, rest assured we’d have helped him correct the error and kept it secret.

Sadly the error was shared with the world.  The Guardian described the results as ‘embarrassing’.


What should we use instead?

The best software for you will depend on the task at hand.

For example, we’ve seen estate agents using spreadsheets to manage instructions and listings.

Our software for estate agents and lettings agents, AgentPro, covers every aspect of the business, from handling complicated financials to marketing brochures.  It manages clients from valuation to completion and ensures best practice throughout, and interfaces with the UK’s leading property portals, enabling estate agents to offer service online and on the High Street – without any of the risks caused by spreadsheets.


Can ITCS provide my software?

Often we know of a good solution and if we don’t, we can create bespoke software for you.  However, many industries already have great software designed specifically for their niche and we understand that.

If ITCS are providing your IT support, we will still be happy to offer you advice on your chosen software – anyone can call themselves a software developer and string software together, so it’s important to choose a reputable provider.  We’re IT experts, here to help and we’re already familiar with your business.

If you’re looking at a new solution, before you sign on the dotted line, feel free to give us a call and we’ll be happy to check out the software provider for you.

Until then, we’ll continue to offer you support on your spreadsheets – and reassure you that no matter how bad the error feels, someone, somewhere messed up far more spectacularly!

WebNeed support for an Excel spreadsheet error?  Take heart – it could be worse!

Research finds just 9% of SMEs teach staff about IT security risks

IT Security continues to be a key issue hitting the headlines for SME’s.  The ITCS team saw new research released today, which worryingly found that only 9% of SMEs offer training or send emails to educate staff about  IT security risks.

Politecnico di Milano School of Management ran a Cyber Crime Observatory which analysed the information security systems and expenditure breakdown of 803 SMEs operating last year.  As well as the shockingly low level of awareness in SME’s. large firms were not much better, they found only about a quarter of the largest firms were educating staff on IT security.

This means that the majority of staff are unaware of the vital role they play in IT security – leaving most companies exposed to the increasing risks.

Alessandro Piva, director of the research observatory said: 

“Cybercrime has grown dramatically over the past months, alongside a continued rise in ransomware, where hackers demand payment of a ransom to release data, and attacks on products linked to the Internet of Things.

“The need for a long-term approach to how information and privacy are managed and the organisation’s data is kept confidential should be a top concern of a company’s upper management.

“It seems that smaller organisations don’t anticipate that they will be targeted as victims of cybercrime in the same way as, say, Yahoo in 2013, where a hack left over one billion users’ information publicly available. Yet without a contingency plan or any preventative measures, these companies are leaving themselves wide-open for potentially devastating cyber-attacks.”

So why are businesses being so complacent?  Brian Stokes, Managing Director of ITCS explains:

 “Actually I don’t believe UK businesses are as complacent as they were 12 months ago, because the new GDPR rules due to come into force next May are giving many businesses a wake-up call. However, the wake up call is bringing risks too.

We’ve seen new GDPR ‘experts’ pop up charging businesses huge fees to get them ‘GDPR ready’, when often the measures needed to reach compliance are quite simple.  

“We are offering any business a free IT Security audit and data health check.  It’s our way of giving something back to the South Wales business community we are proud to be part of. Security and compliance have always been priorities for the ITCS team and our Compliance Team will continue to support businesses ahead of the planned changes and beyond.”

If you have any questions about IT Security or GDPR, call 08456 444 200 and ask for our Security Team.

WebResearch finds just 9% of SMEs teach staff about IT security risks

Equifax data breach highlights need for IT security audits – it’s not ‘just an IT issue’, says ITCS.

Cyber security professionals are hot property at the moment, with a 70% increase in job vacancies across the sector. It’s therefore no surprise that that the ITCS IT security team are in constant demand.

The recent Equifax data breach and the Wannacry ransomware attack have made world headlines, highlighting the need for robust IT security, especially with new GDPR rules due to come into force.

Two Thirds of FTSE Companies have been hit by a cyber attack

IT security audits are increasingly important. In case you think your company can’t be affected, the 2015/16 Cyber Governance Health Check made sobering reading. Two-thirds of FTSE companies have been hit by a cyber-attack in the past year alone, so IT security audits have to be a high priority for every business, even SME’s.

Staff often pose the biggest risk to IT Security

HR and the C-Suite need to lose the view that IT security is something they can pass off to ‘the IT team’.

That’s because no matter how robust your IT infrastructure, the biggest security risk comes from inadequately trained or complacent staff. In fact, at a recent Cybersecurity event, 57% of cyber security experts said they would like to see human employees replaced by AI!

IT experts like ITCS can help provide a robust infrastructure, combined with security advice and training, and we can advise your internal IT team on how to carry out regular IT security audits.

However, it isn’t only an issue for ‘techies’.  Line managers and HR have a vital role to play in maintaining secure working practices on a day-to-day basis. IT security isn’t just IT’s responsibility – it’s everyone’s responsibility. The CIPD are now encouraging HR Managers to take the lead and educate staff on secure working practices.

Here’s some things you can do to mitigate your risk:

Tighten up your physical security

Hacking isn’t just done by anonymous remote hackers. Train your staff to challenge anyone who they don’t recognize (in person or on the telephone) requesting access to your PC or password information, and train staff to lock their PCs when leaving their desk.

Your password is not usually something you need to provide, and being asked should raise a red flag. If in doubt, check with IT before granting access. If your firm has an ID system, challenge anyone who doesn’t have company or authorized contractor ID. This is good common sense anyway with current terror threats.

Keep your IT systems up to date

If you don’t outsource your IT, you are responsible for updating your system. Make sure staff know what to do if their system prompts them about software updates. We can help if you aren’t sure what to do – you definitely shouldn’t ignore them.

Manufacturers often update their software in order to protect against a specific threat.  The Equifax breach apparently resulted when a staff member failed to apply a software patch in a timely fashion – affecting 400,000 UK customers alone (and an estimated 143 million worldwide). Ouch.

Offer regular IT security training and updates

Training in cyber security adds a layer of resilience. It means staff understand which threats are out there, how to prevent them, and how to deal with them when they occur.
Sending out a memo is usually ignored, so formal IT security training is essential – and your in house team should reinforce secure working practices in between sessions.

Drive home the importance of password security

Most people know they ‘should’ create strong passwords, but nonetheless choose the name of their child, dog or even their address.

It’s vital that employees understand the importance of this. Passwords are the first line of defence. Managers should enable their systems to ‘force’ the use of strong passwords, and frequently educate staff on the need for them.

Managing the risk of insider attacks

Disgruntled employees pose a very real risk, whether having their own agenda, or receiving an incentive from a third party. A disgruntled Morrisons employee who leaked employee data literally cost the company millions of pounds.

The first step to protect your business from insider threats is to carefully control who has access to what information. Staff should only have access to data they need to do their job, access to sensitive data should be controlled and recorded and access levels should be regularly reviewed, especially if job roles change.

A formal starting and leaving procedure should be followed, rather than just making changes when someone leaves. On leaving, the formal leaving process should terminate access immediately, not a few days later and any shared passwords (which should not exist anyway) should be changed.

ITCS offering free IT security audits

Whilst many customers rely on us for IT support, we believe IT Security is equally important.

We are happy to offer any business a free review of their current IT security with a thorough audit. We will advise you of the next steps to take and you can decide how to proceed next.

ITCS services include IT security consultancy and training. We can also ‘train the trainer’ if you prefer to deliver staff security training in house.

IT security remains a threat that businesses cannot afford to ignore, and staff need to be on board to help combat the threat. Wayne Harris, our Compliance Officer says:

“No matter how secure your systems are, your people have a vital impact on security. Alert and well-trained staff add an important layer to your security. Unmotivated, untrained staff simply add an additional risk – with so many threats these days, that’s not a risk worth taking.”

To take advantage of your free review, click here and complete the form at the bottom of the page – our team will be in touch.

WebEquifax data breach highlights need for IT security audits – it’s not ‘just an IT issue’, says ITCS.

How to Write a Great Blog Post that Google & Your Customers will Love!

ITCS’s Lisa Baker shares how customers can write a great blog post that is Google-friendly and will also engage their target audience

As one of the ‘in-house’ SEO experts for ITCS, and the Editor of several online magazines, I’m often asked by customers ‘how can I write a great blog post’?

If you write a great blog post, you can:

• Engage your audience with your brand
• Establish you as a thought-leader in your industry
• Give useful information to your readers and followers
• Help with your SEO
• Add weight to your sales messages
• Communicate your offer to customers

ITCS offer a full SEO and content management service, if you’d rather outsource blog writing, but here’s some helpful tips if you do it in-house:

1. DON’T use your blog or social media to over-sell

Some blogs are just a collection of different ‘buy me! posts’. Too much selling is a real turn off and offers no independent value to your readership – you wouldn’t watch a channel with nothing but adverts, so why would you return to a blog that’s stuffed with ‘buy me?’

The occasional special offer is fine, but your blog should be informative, reinforce your brand values and build customer trust. See it as a long-term relationship rather than a one-night-stand. Selling on blogs should be subtle and link-based.

Here’s some ideas for useful posts that will interest your readers:


2. DO – Share useful, informative content, at least once per month. Think about:

New Products – If you have a new product or service, the blog is a great way to launch it. Write about the new service in an informative way, with a subtle call to action button at the bottom.

Seasonal Tips – ‘Top 10 tips for (moving home/stress free motoring/buying the perfect gift/camping/booking a holiday) in (Spring/Summer/Autumn/Winter)’ (obviously, this will depend on your business – this works really well for consumer sites)

Topical Thought Leadership – Is there a particular topic that everyone is discussing in your industry? (e.g. Brexit/Minimum Wage/Taxes/legislation/AI and tech). Stamp your authority as a leader in your field by sharing your opinion and/or advice. It is an opportunity to brag about your knowledge and experience in the light of current events. These posts also make great press releases.

Customer Service – Is there a question that your customer service team are always being asked? Save time by providing advice on common queries in a blog post. This could help your customer service team avoid repetitive support calls, and demonstrates to non-customers that you are a company who cares about their customers. A call to action button connecting to the customer support email address makes it easy to mail support.

Staff News – people buy people, and the internet can makes companies seem faceless.  Make your staff seem accessible, show the world they are likeable! If someone spends Sunday running for Cancer Research, ask if they mind you sharing the news on the company blog, and include a link to their online fundraising page. It helps staff feel valued and supported by the company and shows your customers you care about your staff.

Company News – Got a significant new contract, company award, or new department? Why not turn it into news and share it on your blog? News posts tell the world that your company is growing and ready for business. Word of warning though, if you plan to quote a customer, check they are happy first. Again, these can be part of your PR, and a pic of you with said customer will go down really well.


3. Write a Great Blog Post that is Google friendly too!

Your blog can only help your SEO if Google finds it. A professional SEO service like ITCS is great, because choosing the right keywords for your post can make the difference between Google indexing your post and not. SEO experts have tools to help them do this.

However, a little common sense will help you write a great blog post which Google can find. Just think – ‘what would my audience type into Google’  to find my product? Let’s imagine a Bridgend shoe shop has just had it’s new collection and wants to be found for ‘red shoes in Bridgend’:

What not to do….

‘This season’s new collection’ with information about your new range would make a great sales brochure, or customer mailshot.

However, it wouldn’t work as an SEO friendly blog title. ‘This seasons new collection’ is too vague to be helpful. If you want to be found for ‘Red shoes in Bridgend’ or even just ‘new shoes in Bridgend’, you need to use relevant keywords in the title to help Google find you.

What to do….

The Blog title is what Google displays as the first line in your search ad.  It also helps Google decide if your page o determine if it’s a good match for the keyword.

In this case, ‘Bridgend Trends: Red Shoes are Hot this Autumn!’ would be a much better title, because ‘Red Shoes’ and ‘Bridgend’ are both in the title, it doesn’t sound flat and gives enough information to make the reader want to click through to read more.

Google also checks for consistency. As well as the header, the post should be relevant to the header and talk about why red shoes are hot in Bridgend this season. Add pictures of the red shoes you sell, with relevant image titles. (Sales tip – link the images to the sales page for that shoe!).


Think like a customer, then think like Google

Your customer knows what they want, and Google wants to help them find it.  To score success even before you start to write a great blog post, try to think like your audience.

Here’s my short, sharp summary to getting it right every time:

• Think about what your audience want to read
• Think about what you want to say
• Think how about what your audience will search for to find it on Google

Now go and write a great blog post with your audience in mind!


Lisa works within the ITCS SEO team and is Google Certified.  For advice about Blog Posts, SEO, Social Media or help running an Adwords campaign, contact the ITCS Web and SEO team on 0845 444 200.

WebHow to Write a Great Blog Post that Google & Your Customers will Love!

Prime Minister Applauds ITCS

Prime Minister Applauds ITCS Apprenticeship Initiative

The Prime Minister has praised a Bridgend company for taking on its first apprentice and so honouring a promise made at Number 10. The pledge was made by Brian Stokes, Managing Director of ITCS one of the UK’s top IT Support Companies, after the Prime Minister singled him out for a chat. ITCS is one of the recognised Wales Fast 50 companies and has won numerous awards for service and support. Mr Stokes was singled out by Mr Cameron and ready with advice at the star studded reception, full of Welsh TV personalities, rugby stars and other leading businessmen.

Giving young people the chance to learn.

Brian said: “He asked me what I thought the Government was doing right or could be doing better, so I said that I was pleased to see the Government pledge of committing additional investment to apprenticeships. We see a lot of engineers who leave college and cannot get a job in their chosen field, burdened with debt, and have no industry experience. I explained that an apprenticeship is more focused, more hands on, and would give us a better engineer at the end of it.”

“We had quite a chat and I told him we’d be keen to start doing apprenticeships and working closely with the local schools and colleges. I really felt that he took the point and welcomed my feedback.” The Prime Minister clearly did. He was delighted to hear Brian’s enthusiasm for apprenticeships.

Mr Cameron added: “They are a key part of our plans to grow our economy, giving young people the chance to learn a trade and helping to build the highly-skilled workforce that our businesses need. They are good for people who want to get ahead, good for business and good for the country. It’s great news that ITCS are now taking on their first apprentice and I hope they will inspire more companies to do the same. I wish ITCS and their new apprentice all the best for the future.”

Award winning IT Computer Support and Managed Maintenance Services.

Brian Stokes says he was selected to attend the Downing Street reception as one of Wales’s “Fast 50″ companies. It was also recognition of the role ITCS has played over the years in supporting and rolling out Government backed initiatives. Brian set up the company with his business partner Gareth John in 2004 and they now employ 20 people. The company delivers award winning IT Computer Support and Managed Maintenance Services to businesses throughout Wales and the South West of England.

As Wales’s number one IT Outsourcing Partner, ITCS can save clients thousands of pounds each year, and deliver innovative, cost effective solutions. With their head offices on the Bridgend Industrial Estate they cover the whole of Wales and the South West of England. For further information visit

WebPrime Minister Applauds ITCS

Stay connected with the latest iPhone and mobile WiFi offer from ITCS

The latest iPhone from Apple

Apple’s latest offering, the iPhone SE. This new device has been turning heads, and here’s your chance to get it in an exclusive deal for business users.
The SE certainly has the looks. The smooth aluminium case has a satin-like finish and it feels light and compact while the 4” Retina display makes everything look vibrant. This smartphone looks slick, professional and stylish, while being small enough to comfortably fit in your hand.
It’s not just its looks that will impress you. Inside you’ll find the same A9 chip that’s used in the iPhone 6s, giving you spectacular speed and responsiveness – its CPU performance is twice as fast as the iPhone 5s, and the GPU performance is 3X faster. Why compromise on speed?
Security is vital for business customers, and Apple touch ID is at the forefront of smartphone security, letting you use your fingerprint to both sign in, and authorise transactions at over two million stores using Apple Pay. Your fingerprint is your perfect password.
ITCS business customers can take advantage of this cutting edge phone with the following exclusive deal:

  • No upfront cost
  • 16G
  • Available in Silver, Gold, Rose Gold or Space Grey
  • Unlimited calls and texts
  • A whopping 2GB of data
  • Only £32 per month (ex VAT)

Mini but Mighty

While you’re upgrading your business phones, you should also look into mobile broadband. The Osprey Mini 2 is a pocket-sized 4G EE WiFi device, creating your own travelling bubble of internet so you can get up to 10 devices online when you are out and about. There’s no need to miss out on vital emails or opportunities, just because you’re out of the office.
EE have won the Fastest Mobile Broadband award in the uSwitch Awards in 2015 for the second year in a row, so you know you’re getting award winning mobile WiFi at a bargain price.
ITCS business users can enjoy the following offer:

  • No upfront cost
  • 6GB data
  • £20 per month (ex VAT)

To find out more about our range of telecoms, contact or phone 08456 444 200. Offers are subject to status.

WebStay connected with the latest iPhone and mobile WiFi offer from ITCS

Bridgend Business Forum Awards – Service Business of the Year

We were honoured to be presented with the Service Business of the Year award to recognise recognising our outstanding IT and business support.

ITCS was honoured to be presented with the Service Business of the Year award to recognise their dedication to providing businesses in Bridgend, and south Wales, with outstanding IT and business support.

Now in its third year, these awards were founded with the intention of seeking out the ‘shining stars’ of the Bridgend business community. They are organised by Bridgend Business Forum and supported by Bridgend County Borough Council.

Along with the other award nominees, ITCS attended a glittering gala dinner and awards ceremony hosted by BBC News Correspondent Sian Lloyd at the Coed-y-Mwstwr Hotel in Coychurch.

We are delighted to add this accolade to our already impressive list of awards, including being included in the Wales Fast Growth 50 for three years in a row.

kmBridgend Business Forum Awards – Service Business of the Year